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GOWANDA Therapy dog plan worth considering

The OBSERVER’s View

It’s an idea that is all about the dogs — and in the Gowanda Central School district it appears as though there could be many barking their support.

A proposal for a therapy dog in the district was led by Gowanda Elementary School’s social worker, Carmen Muscarella, and school resource officer, Ben Shields, during a recent meeting earlier this month.

“This is something that’s really exciting,” Muscarella said. “I have thought about this and researched this for probably a good eight years. Over the last couple years I’ve been contemplating it.”

Some of the benefits for having a therapy dog at school include improved academics, increased attendance rates, an improved overall school climate, an increased motivation and incentive. Muscarella also noted that having a dog in a school can also teach empathy to students, which can be difficult to teach otherwise.

“For me being an animal lover, it’s easy for me to tell you it’s beneficial,” Muscarella said. “It reduces stress, anxiety and improves self esteem.”

We’re sure this idea was a welcome change from previous Gowanda board meetings, which have been contentious in recent months. We also know other schools in our region have seen success with these programs.

This plan is definitely something worth chewing on.

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